Health Care Reform: Recent News & Events

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Covered California Gets $674M to Keep Developing Insurance Exchange - Thursday, January 17, 2013

Source: Sacramento Business Journal

January 17, 2013 (Sacramento Business Journal) by Kathy Robertson – Covered California has received a federal grant of $674 million to continue development of — and to launch — a new insurance program for individuals and small businesses in 2014.

The latest grant brings total federal funding for the program to almost $1 billion. A $1 million grant was awarded in Sept. 2010 to establish a board, recruit staff and develop a plan. Then came grants of more than $39 million in August 2011 and $196 million in August 2012 to plan and implement core areas of the program.

The new grant, announced Thursday, brings the total to more than $910 million. The funding is expected to cover costs through 2014. From that point on, Covered California is expected to be self sufficient, operating solely on fees.

The new grant money will be used “to stand up Covered California over the next two years and to create a marketplace to make health care coverage available to millions of Californians,” program director Peter Lee told reporters in a conference call Thursday.

The grant will fund:

  • An online web portal where consumers can make apples-to-apples comparisons among health plans on cost and quality
  • Review and certify health plans that will be available for purchase through the online marketplace
  • A multi-cultural, multi-language marketing and education campaign to reach millions of eligible Californians and small businesses
  • A network of community-based “assisters” to help guide individuals through enrollment

A multi-language call center to help enrollees with questions• An administrative office expected to employ nearly 700 people by the end of this year

The new grant amount of $674 million is slightly below the $706 million the exchange asked for in its Nov. 15 application. The feds trimmed the request for outreach funding by about $30 million, Lee said.

“As a learning organization, if we need more, we can go back to them,” Lee said. “We had a very constructive discussion regarding elements they thing we might me able to do without. We feel this is robust funding — and what we need for now,” he said of the approved amount.

Covered California is funded entirely through federal grants. No state funding has been received.

For more information about the program, click here to go to the Covered California website.

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